Unplugged: Life as a teenager without a cell phone

Looks of confusion and numberous questions constantly greet me.

Jamie Wang / Aragon Outlook
I’m an average high schooler with a not-so-average predicament. I don’t own a cell phone. And it’s not out of necessity — it’s my own choice.

Life today relies on technology. Whether communicating with friends or meeting new people on social media, we are constantly surrounded by a sea of new gadgets and devices. Whether it’s seeing someone staring at their phone while aimlessly walking down the street or a group of friends all texting other people (or even each other) while hanging out, the presence of cell phones in today’s world is inescapable.

I should preface my thoughts by saying that if I had changed my mind and wanted a phone, my parents would buy it for me immediately. For them, a cell phone ensures easier communication, convenience and a level of assurance in regards to my safety.

However, I’ve chosen not to have a phone mainly because of the attachment (and at times addiction) that inevitably results from owning a phone. Individuals who get a phone may become so attached that after a while, they can’t picture their lives without one. This is definitely not the path I want to take.

With phones playing such an integral part in society, they’re seen as a constant — not a variable — making communication without one harder. One may be left out — not on purpose — but by pure forgetfulness.

However, although communication may be more difficult, it’s not impossible. The extra effort that keeping in touch without a cell phone requires means leads to this communication being more purposeful.

However this possible disconnect may lead to a case of FOMO, or fear of missing out. FOMO is a feeling many teenagers are accustomed to. In addition to gadgets like cellphones, social media can amplify the feeling of FOMO. It can cause people to overthink or scrutinize decisions and question themselves along with others. This feeling can then snowball into greater conflicts.

Personally, I don’t have any social media either. For me, not having social media almost entirely eliminates the issue FOMO. Plus, without a cell phone, instead of dwelling on the time people spend apart, I just cherish the time spent together.

Constant beeps, rings, and alarms constantly stress those with phones. I have often seen people staring at their phone in anticipation of something instead of living in the momen and truly interacting with those around them. Without a phone, this constant state of anticipation dissolves and people let themselves be released from distraction; they are able to become fully invested in the present.

Not having a phone frees up time in my schedule. Since I’m not scrolling through the latest posts or responding to texts, I can do the things that I love. Although this can be achieved by anyone by simply putting away their phone, the willpower it takes to entirely erase the distraction, for many, proves to be too difficult.

There are times when not having a phone is great inconvenience. Whether it’s calling someone for a ride or just being amidst a group of people all of whom are on their phones, the prospect of owning one can be tempting. However, not having a phone is simply a way of adaption. Having never owned a phone, I am so accustomed to saying, “Can I borrow your phone?” that it has become second nature.

I should admit that I don’t think phones are evil. I definitely don’t frown upon people who use them — just in the way that they are used. For many, cell phones are a necessity. They’re a convenient form of communication, contain a wealth of knowledge, and might bring strangers together.

The truth is that everyone is in power of their technology, it’s just a matter of balancing priorities. To think that such a small device plays such a large role in one’s life is a crazy idea, but it’s also an idea that is important. It’s a personal decision whether to have a phone or not, but it’s also a personal decision of letting a phone control one’s life. I believe that this is something everyone should consider.

Posted by Naomi Vanderlip

Naomi is a sophomore and returning Features staffer, looking forward to what's in store. When she isn't consumed with homework, she's either striving to makes kids smile working at Kumon, trying to teach her dog to actually stay, which never works out, or making microwave popcorn. She constantly adds to her bucket list and ponders about what her future will hold.

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